SYRACUSE — Sleigh bells may still be off in the distance for some, but the Syracuse-Wawasee Chamber of Commerce has already secured a sleigh in preparation for Holiday Magic, occurring Nov. 21. During its regular board meeting Wednesday, Oct. 7, late-fall and winter events were the main focus.
Also for Holiday Magic, the chamber is looking for volunteers to help bake cookies, plus serve them and the hot cocoa during the event. Executive Director Tammy Cotton stated she would have cookie dough available for volunteers to use.
Already for the event reindeer and the sleigh rides have been lined up. Lakeland Youth Center is also scheduled to have gingerbread house making again, and the elementary school choir has agreed to perform.
On Jan. 30 the Winter Carnival will be rolling into town in conjunction with the Wawasee Kiwanis Snowmobile Drag Races. Assistant Director Kristi Martin said there are plans for a biscuits and gravy cook off, food trucks, ice carvers and more. The event will potentially have three locations: Lakeside Park, downtown Syracuse and the Harold Schrock Athletic Complex, where there would be ice skating and possibly a tethered balloon.
Currently, for the Winter Carnival, the chamber is seeking sponsors. They will also be distributing information for businesses to sign up for ice sculptures. Board members approved a $1,000 deposit to secure the ice sculptors.
Cotton shared with board members an ongoing discussion about the current Syracuse Elementary School building and its future uses. One idea, she said, is to turn the back portion of the school into a cultural arts center. She and representatives from the school district and town met with local artists to discuss that possibility.
Other thoughts have included providing spaces for organizations like Rock Solid, Lakes Area Community Band, the museums, etc. Wawasee Community Schools plans to maintain a presence in the building, potentially also creating a cafe area for culinary arts students.
Cotton said she is researching grants to see what is available to help fund these potential uses.
Board President Chad Jonsson asked whose project it would be, to which Cotton said it hadn’t been decided yet. She added currently it’s a collaborative discussion between the school district, the town and the chamber.
“There’s a lot of work and a lot of planning,” she said. “There’s also a lot of possibilities.”
In other chamber news:
• The chamber donated the refrigerator that wouldn’t fit in its new location to Rose Home North in Syracuse.
• Work on the Syracuse banners continues. Kathy Boyts has created a mock-up, featuring a general banner with tail that designates the areas of town: “River Front District” and “The Village.”
• Syracuse Community Center will be hosting a Business After Hours from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. Nov. 5. The event is being hosted by Mutual Bank and the Syracuse Parks and Recreation Department and will highlight recreation in the Syracuse area, particular in winter time.
• Syracuse-Wawasee Garden Club is finalizing a spring planting plan for the “Welcome to Syracuse” sign near Wawasee Middle School.
Next chamber board meeting is at noon Wednesday, Nov. 4, at the chamber office.